Tyler Flynn Dorholt



on reviewing Gaddis’s The Recognitions1

The Recognitions
by William Gaddis
Reissued by Dalkey Archive, 2012
976 pages / $18.95  Buy from Dalkey Archive or Amazon








(Download PDF Version of Review)

“Of course I like music, but not just to listen to.”
– The Recognitions (940)

There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.
– T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

“On the surface! But how much deeper do people go?”
The Recognitions  (464)

[1] Throughout this review I will be using quotes from the novel in footnotes to support notes I make.
The occasion for this review of The Recognitions, a classic American novel first printed in 1955, is its recent reissue from Dalkey Archive, with an introduction by William Gass. If I were to write a brief synopsis of the plot and major themes of the novel it would be as follows.[2] Now that we have synopsis in hand, let me speak of how that only begins to explain the more substantial elements of The Recognitions, the ones that stick: that it is concerned with originality, reality, and perfection and that these things are often interchangeable; that its characters are all involved in some type of forgery;[3] that we are just layers and accumulations and fragments within the whole, tottering in the field between familiarity and recognition; that art and religion have similar strands and weights of guilt, combatant with truth; and so on. Because of the novel’s size—956 pages—I will stick with the aforementioned elements, with the belief that they get us readers thinking and moving the most; additionally, I will leave Gaddis out of this review— READ MORE >
December 10th, 2012 / 12:00 pm